Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Bike Parties - Inclusive or Uncomfortable?

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I have a love hate relationship with bike party events. I hear about them in list serves, Facebook pages, etc. and promptly forget about when each event occurs until I stumble upon on a party in progress. Usually, it's when I'm riding around and encounter a mass of cyclists, ringing bells and yelling, approaching from a cross street. You can't miss their arm waving, funny hats, lack of helmets, rolling group 50-100 strong, taking the entire lane, pedaling through stop signs, traffic lights—otherwise known as a bike party.

And yet, people are riding bicycles en mass, attracting attention, enjoying fine weather, encouraging others to join their crowd. And, I must admit, there is something admirable about a group using two wheels to get to a destination after a tour around the city, and I am momentarily swept along with their enthusiasm, riding for a block or two if we're traveling in the same direction.

But, inevitably I break away from the group. I'm practically their grandma's age, uncomfortable with hooting and hollering, and frankly they end up at someone's home or apartment, drinking beer—the premise after all of bike party. Plus, riders break all the rules of the road—the very etiquette I've taught our children to abide by for safe cycling. More than anything, it's the unlawful bike conduct that grates on me.

Don't get me wrong. This age group tend toward radical antics anyway, staging sleep-ins on public property, holding protests, or more mild gatherings like car washes to support local charities. They have enthusiasm and gumption in spades. And the more I think about it, while I may not condone their cycling habits, at least young people are congregating, cycling to the beach, to friend's houses, to the store, and have left the car behind. Or, maybe youngsters can't afford a vehicle and have finally accepted the bicycle as viable transportation. Whatever the reason, perhaps bike party suits this age group just fine, and if they end up drunk, riding a bike home or walking because they are too inebriated to stay upright, well, isn't that safer than getting behind the wheel of an automobile?


  1. I see this and think I'm very lucky to have so many regular group rides in Pittsburgh where people from many age groups come together and have a 'bike party' with music, a bit of hooting, bell ringing and waving and we *obey* the rules of the road. Then, a drink afterwards.

    1. While ridership is growing in our area Burlington has a high student population, which drives the economy but also other events also. Impromptu bike rides occur at any given time and take on a life of their own.

  2. I love these types of rides but this aspect of them is something that's always bothered me. Our fun group rides and weekly pub pedal include a mix of age groups. Very few if any follow the rules of the road or the sidewalk. I make some effort to do the right thing and hope it rubs off.


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